As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 23, 107 Maine residents have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
Another 18 cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in Maine, bringing the statewide total to 107.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Monday morning that 12 Maine residents remain hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Another three people have recovered from it.
A majority of those who have caught the coronavirus are over the age 50, and slightly more women than men have tested positive.
On Sunday, General Dynamics, the parent company of Bath Iron Works, confirmed a worker at the shipyard has tested positive for the coronavirus, but said that individual had not been at the main yard since March 13. The Maine VA system said Sunday that two veterans and an employee also have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Another 2,791 Maine residents have tested negative for the coronavirus, up from 2,264 on Sunday, according to Shah.
Shah said that his agency continues to focus its testing efforts on high-risk groups, such as those in hospitals, but is working to increase its testing capacity and reduce the wait time for results.
“We recognize that folks across Maine are waiting for results. … We recognize that wait time causes anxiety and causes frustration, especially at a time when no one needs any more anxiety and frustration than they already have,” Shah said via teleconference from the Maine Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Augusta.
Monday’s results mark a sharp increase from late last week when 56 cases were reported Friday and then 89 on Sunday. That comes as the coronavirus has brought life to halt across the state, with widespread school and business closures and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people.
The city of Bangor on Sunday evening expanded restrictions on businesses operating in the Queen City, only allowing restaurants to offer takeout and delivery service and businesses that provide “necessary goods and services” to remain open during the outbreak. Tourism hub Bar Harbor on Friday took the unprecedented step to ask that tourists “stay home and avoid unnecessary travel,” which comes as coastal residents report seeing more out-of-state license plates than typically seen this time of year.
So far, the coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where 66 cases have been reported, according to the Maine CDC.
Shah has said there is evidence of “community transmission” in Cumberland County. No evidence of community transmission has been detected yet in other counties, but the Maine CDC anticipates community transmission will appear at some point outside Cumberland County.
Other cases have been detected in Androscoggin (3), Kennebec (4), Knox (1), Lincoln (5), Oxford (5), Penobscot (3), Sagadahoc (3) and York (12) counties. Information about where another five cases were detected wasn’t immediately available Monday morning.
Shah cautioned Monday that the depth and breadth of the coronavirus outbreak is not yet known in Maine and that just because his agency has not confirmed a case in a given county does not mean it has yet to spread there.
“I would like to ask everyone to live your life as if COVID-19 is already in your community. When it comes to outbreaks, we are often in any outbreak situation just detecting the tip of the iceberg at any one time … So what we know right now is that even if COVID-19 has not been confirmed in your county, it’s likely there,” Shah said.
Shah acknowledged that Maine residents are being plunged into “uncharted territory” during the coronavirus pandemic and that “uncertainty” remains about the nature of the outbreak and what lies ahead. But he asked them to recognize that they are not alone at this time and to reach out to someone if they are feeling fearful or are in the midst of a crisis.
“You have a community and people can be there for you even if they aren’t there with you,” Shah said.
As of Monday, the virus had sickened 33,404 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 400 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease